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Thread: Whether or not to prime miniatures before paint

  1. #1

    Default Whether or not to prime miniatures before paint

    Hello everyone. It's been quite some time since I painted any miniatures, but I'm looking at getting back into it now since I have picked up playing D&D again and would enjoy painting once more and using those for our games. The last time I painted (maybe going on close to 10 years now), I used to always glue together my miniatures and them hit them with a coat or two of Citadel primer. However, I've been online lately looking at lots of videos of painting and it seems a lot of people either don't do that, or they just lay down a coat of base paint on the mini before going into the actual painting. So my question is...is it worth it to coat your minis with primer before painting, or have paints and the like gotten better in the past 10 years and are no longer needed?

  2. #2

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    Hi Im not really much of a painter but for what its worth, preperation is a very important part of doing anything spend time sanding smoothing mold lines etc then prime it, any of the top guys n gals here will tell you thats what they do.
    LAAARRFF, I SPLIT MY SIDES!!

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    on a serious note, i do commissions, no really i do, ask and ye shall receive


  3. #3

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    Priming miniatures is never a question.
    It is a must, and is more important to preventing paint from rubbing and chipping than a varnish.

    Always prime your models no matter what.

    I'm not sure what videos you're watching....
    You can watch my videos on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/MiniGhool/playlists
    And you can also support me on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/Ghool

  4. #4

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    Hello and welcome Stormhammer!!

    Some painters avoid priming their miniatures, mainly because they want the figurines for painting contests, so the lesser layers of paint to obscure the sculpted detail of the miniature the better. With that in mind, no one is going to touch those miniatures, and they will handle the miniature with the uttermost care and just touch their plinths/bases. Some of those painters don't even varnish them so they can control exactly the finishing textures of the different surfaces.

    But from what I have read on your question you are not in these group (at least not for now)
    So if you are going to use your miniatures to play with them, I would not only advice you to prime them but to also double varnish them. That way they will resist longer the "battle damage".
    The paint layer order would be: prime--> regular paint layers--> gloss varnish --> matt varnish In case you want some shiny parts (metal, moist areas, etc..) varnish those parts again with gloss varnish, or mask them before the matt varnish.

    The reason of glossy varnish then matt varnish, is that in general, glossy varnish are more resistant to weathering than matte ones, so if you do not want your miniatures to look shiny then a final matt varnish layer is required ^^

    Also, if you want your painted miniatures to resist even more, I would advice you to buy plastic ones instead of metal ones. Paint on metal miniatures tend to cheap of quite easily compared to the plastic ones. The other available source material for miniatures is resin, but some resins can be quite fragile (depending on their composition) so I would check them before "bulk buying" resin ones.
    Last edited by Maenas; 04-18-2017 at 11:42 AM.
    Feel free to come by my WIP or have a look into my Gallery
    Voted on 5377 out of 235568 minis, and also left 847 comments on Cmon Gallery.


  5. #5

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    Okay, thanks for the advice guys. I ordered a starter kit from Reaper Miniatures that has a few models and some paint in it, but didn't come with primer, so that was another reason why I asked. Thanks again for the help.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormhammer View Post
    Okay, thanks for the advice guys. I ordered a starter kit from Reaper Miniatures that has a few models and some paint in it, but didn't come with primer, so that was another reason why I asked. Thanks again for the help.
    Regarding Reaper Bones miniatures you technically don't have to prime them to get excellent adherance due to their material. Some people (myself included) still do because unprimed they can sometimes have issues if the paint is too thin directly on the bones material and when primed the paint will behave more reliably. Either way, cleaning with warm water/dish soap/tooth brush is very important when painting Bones as the mold release agent used can sometimes leave a hydrophobic area that will completely prevent paint (or primer) from adhering. Also look at the Reaper forums about working with Bones, there are a number of spray primers that will leave Bones in a perpetually tacky state and they have a list there of what to steer clear of (only an issue with spray, no problems with brush ons like Vallejo Surface Primer or Badger Stynylrez.) Before I started priming with an airbrush I used Dupli-Color Sandable, it is a great spray primer that can be found at automitve stores in the US and I'd recommend it if you're using spray primer both due to it's low cost and simply amazing ability to retain detail, even if you use too much. If you go this route make sure to get the sandable and not the filler as the filler will destroy details and the packaging is near identical. There have been reports of dupli-color possibly causing tackyness but I never encountered it as an issue when using it.

  7. #7

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    I agree with maenas here, some people view not priming minis the way people viewed blasphemy in the middle ages, but its only really necessary if you plan to game with them or handle them alot. I tend not to bother priming because i don't play any games and once I've finished a model it goes on a shelf never to be touched again. For your situation though it sounds like primer is a good idea because you mentioned playing d+d with them

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sicks View Post
    I agree with maenas here, some people view not priming minis the way people viewed blasphemy in the middle ages, but its only really necessary if you plan to game with them or handle them alot. I tend not to bother priming because i don't play any games and once I've finished a model it goes on a shelf never to be touched again. For your situation though it sounds like primer is a good idea because you mentioned playing d+d with them
    I always assume anyone that has no experience painting is doing it for a reason. ie. gaming.
    I have yet to see anyone come into a forum and declare they are going to be the next Ben Komets and where do they start.
    This is the reason that primer is never a question.

    Pro-painters decide after becoming really good, that primer is no longer necessary.
    It's not something I would ever advise a new painter to do however.
    You can watch my videos on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/MiniGhool/playlists
    And you can also support me on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/Ghool

  9. #9

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    Well, she/he did say they had painted before and had taken a break so i assumed they had some experience in the past and there's been plenty of instances where people in that situation decide they want to try and get better at painting, possibly up to display standard. Plus they asked why it looked like on some of the videos they'd watched why the minis were unprimed so i was more explaining why that might be the case than suggesting they shouldn't prime.

    One thing i forgot to mention though, which might be the case for those videos, is that there's a variety of coloured primers available nowadays, army painter do a series of base coloured primers to speed up painting an army. Also grey primer is used sometimes now too (compared to back in the late 90's when i stopped painting and it was either black or white primers) on the occasions that i do prime i use grey because i find it easier to still see the details of a mini compared to black or white because it basically looks like the pastor colour

  10. #10

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    Reaper Bones: terrible, terrible shite. Not worth wasting time on unless using for gaming pieces IMO. Soft detail, bendy weapons, leached chemicals...

    NEVER hit the stuff with any sort of spray because it will totally devastate your paint job sooner or later.

    As for the primer thing, I've never undercoated plastics even when I was gaming. The paint always stuck plenty well enough. If you're not handling the pieces then it barely matters anyway.

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